Fort Bliss: Biden administration responds to report of inhumane conditions for migrant children at emergency shelter in Texas
- In court filings,
migrant childrenat a federal shelter in Texas complained of inhumane conditions.
- Children said they were given rotten food and were unable to sleep in overcrowded tents.
Biden administrationsaid it is working to improve conditions.
The Biden administration is defending its handling of migrant children seeking
"We take our humanitarian mission and the well-being of children in our care seriously," said a statement emailed to reporters on Wednesday by Sarah Lovenheim, assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of
In court documents filed this week, migrant children suggested that commitment was lacking, complaining of severe depression caused at least in part by excruciating conditions at shelters such as the one at
The facility was first used to house detained migrants during the Trump administration.
A 13-year-old girl from Honduras said she was placed on suicide watch after spending two months there.
"The food here is horrible," she testified. "Yesterday we were given hamburgers but I couldn't eat it because there was a foul odor coming from the bread."
The child also described suffering insomnia due to the conditions, per the legal filing.
"It is really hard for me to sleep because my cot is right next to a light that stays on all night," she said, adding that a request for sleeping pills had been denied due to her age. "For the past week or so I have only been sleeping during the day."
In its statement, HHS insisted children are "receiving nutritionally-appropriate meals."
"Our goal is to safely and expeditiously unite children with their parent or sponsor and we continue to improve and streamline this process," it said.
Another 17-year-old girl at the same facility, however, described overcrowded conditions even with the decrease in the number of children there, with hundreds of girls sleeping under the same tent.
"A lot of the girls here cry a lot," she testified. "A lot of them end up having to talk to someone because they have thoughts of cutting themselves."
Federal officials, concerned about deteriorating mental health among the children, "banned pencils, pens, scissors, nail clippers, and regular toothbrushes" inside of such tents, CBS News reported.
"They've gone from a small cage at Border Patrol to a larger cage at Fort Bliss," a former employee there told the outlet. "It's a juvenile detention facility."
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